I “stole” this from Facebook this morning because it prompted me to think about where I’d be if I hadn’t agreed to go with Ralph to the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle in 2010.
I’ve never been a daredevil. I never learned to ski or waterski and I can barely move around on ice or rollerskates. I was 57 then (go ahead, do the math), and I didn’t have much experience riding on the back of a motorcycle, much less riding one for days on end. The Grand Canyon is a long way from Minnesota. What if something happened to us on the road?
I started talking to myself. When I was 77, did I want to be able to look back and say, “I’m glad I did that”, or would I be saying, “I wish I had done that”? I decided to put my trust in Ralph (after all, he did get us through several canoe trips in the Boundary Waters during the early days of our marriage) and get on the bike.
The first week, we cruised along Route 66. Oklahoma has more of the original road than other states, but we had fun getting off I-40 to snake off to little towns along the way. Some of them have begun to promote their location along the old route, but others are ghost towns, with shells of gas stations and old motels slowly crumbling into dust.
There were a lot of “ifs” on this trip. If we hadn’t gone to Amarillo, Texas, we wouldn’t have known about Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the U.S. Unlike the largest, you can ride your motorcycle into it. If all the rooms in the Holiday Inn at Kayenta, Arizona, hadn’t been taken, we wouldn’t have had the fun of staying in an old trailer with sagebrush growing over the windows and eating freshly-made Navajo fry bread. Nor would we have ended up on Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway. What splendor to see the clouds below us and the golden aspens beside us!
It ended up being one of the best, most restful vacations we have ever taken, despite putting more than 4,400 miles on our Victory.
As Robert Frost wrote:
Northway Motorsports, a Victory motorcycle dealer, has agreed to sell Ride Minnesota! The dealership is “way the heck out there” on Hwy. 65 in East Bethel. It’s next to Fat Boys Bar & Grill, a family-friendly biker hangout. I’m acting as the wholesaler to the final seller in this deal, a new role for me. Faith, the lady from Northway who called to order the book, said she thought it would “really move fast.” She also said I’d done a good job on the book–she wanted to get out and try some of the rides. Sweet music to my ears!
One of my favorite rides in Ride Minnesota is also “way the heck out there”–the Gunflint Trail in northeastern Minnesota. It twists and turns out of Grand Marais as it leads you to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. There’s only one way in and one way out. But you’ll have to read the book to learn more about it.